SYDNEY - Australian former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks has heckled a senior minister, calling him a coward while accusing the former government of having full knowledge of his alleged torture.
His outburst came as a scathing Senate report into the United States' brutal treatment of "war on terror" detainees was released, triggering worldwide condemnation.
It said the CIA's interrogation of Al-Qaeda suspects was far more brutal than acknowledged and did not produce useful intelligence.
Hicks spent five-and-a-half years in the notorious US-run prison at Guantanamo Bay before being convicted by a military commission of providing material support for terrorism.
He has since recanted his confession, claiming he only pleaded guilty under duress. He claims he was beaten, sexually abused and drugged while in the jail until 2007.
"Hey, my name is David Hicks!" he shouted as Attorney-General George Brandis, a member of the John Howard government in power when Hicks was incarcerated, wrapped up an address at a human rights function on Wednesday evening.
"I was tortured for five-and-a-half years in Guantanamo Bay in the full knowledge of your party. What do you have to say?" Brandis walked off stage without answering, TV footage showed, with Hicks calling him "a coward".
"He's run away," Hicks, who has previously accused the government of using him as a "political scapegoat", told reporters.
Brandis dismissed the incident, and said he did not feel "remotely threatened".
"There was a random individual who turned out to be a terrorist yelling at the side of a room for about three seconds," he said.
Barry O'Sullivan from the Nationals - the junior partner in the ruling coalition - told a parliamentary committee hearing: "My tax dollar has somehow funded an event where a terrorist has turned up and heckled the nation's attorney-general." Hicks was at the event with his lawyer Stephen Kenny, who told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that his client was angry that Brandis was talking about human rights.
"The Australian government should be held to account on how they allowed David Hicks to be treated," he said, adding that the CIA report was "a vindication of David".
"It confirms everything that we know, that this was just frankly routine and carried out in quite a brutal manner, and David still carries the scars of it today." Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and accused of fighting alongside the Taliban against the US-led forces which invaded the country after the 9/11 attacks on the US.
He was sent to Guantanamo Bay in January 2002.
Hicks was allowed to return home to Australia in May 2007 after striking a deal with US military prosecutors.
His father Terry and other supporters have long said they suspected Australia's government, a key US ally, at the time must have known of his mistreatment.
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